Relaxed Jonassen finally in a good space
The Heat allrounder says a more relaxed approach while batting has helped her find some superb individual form in recent times
Laura Jolly in Brisbane
7 December 2019, 08:43 PM AEST
Twelve months on from one of the darkest periods of her career, Jess Jonassen could not be in a more different place on the eve of the Rebel WBBL final.
The Brisbane Heat and Australian allrounder has enjoyed a career-best season with bat and ball in WBBL|05, taking 19 wickets at 19.15 and scoring 386 runs at 38.6 – those coming at a handy strike rate of 134.49.
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On Saturday she produced a player-of-the-match performance as the Heat toppled the Renegades to claim their spot in Sunday’s decider against the Adelaide Strikers, taking the key wicket of the in-form Jess Duffin before her 23-ball 38 helped steer her team chase down a challenging target of 164 with 11 balls to spare.
"It was really nice to put a complete performance out there," Jonassen said of the Heat’s semi-final display.
"We knew at the halfway mark the wicket was a really good one for the bat and we just needed to play good cricket shots and be smart about it.
"Everyone is in a really good space and feeling positive about things."
That's the end of Jess Duffin! She departs for 44, making way for Georgia Wareham. LIVE: https://t.co/iB8jWbcBVz #WBBLFinals pic.twitter.com/BnvRVv7qLc— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 7, 2019
Her current campaign in teal has continued that’s been a memorable year for Jonassen, who broke back into the Australian playing XI in February.
She’s played every game since to finish as her country’s leading wicket-taker for 2019, with 36 scalps from one Test, 12 ODIs and nine T20Is.
It’s a stark contrast to this time last year, when a disheartened Jonassen had just returned home from Australia’s T20 World Cup triumph in the Caribbean.
The left-arm spinner was part of the Australian squad that took out the 2018 tournament in the Caribbean but after missing the tour of Malaysia immediately prior due to a knee injury she could not find her way back into a winning XI, instead restricted to carrying drinks.
The Queenslander has since revealed she struggled with her mental health throughout that tournament, far from home and frustrated at not being able to contribute on the field.
"Getting an injury when I did wasn’t ideal and I put a lot of hard work in just to get on the plane (to the World Cup)," Jonassen explained ahead of Saturday’s semi-final.
"When you’re in the bubble of the World Cup and in another country, you just want to play and it heightens all your emotions and feelings.
"But hindsight is a great thing and looking back now, I don’t think I would have been ready to perform to the best of my ability or do what the team required of me.
"As someone who has been a part of World Cups before and knowing how it feels to hold that trophy and be out there and perform with your teammates, finding other ways to contribute (from the sidelines) was a challenge."
Since, she has been working hard on her mental fitness as well as her physical, while also making sure she is devoting time to people and interests outside of cricket.
It’s an approach that has set her up well for Australia’s T20 World Cup title defense on home soil next February and March.
"What’s really pleasing for me at is all the work I’ve put in, not just from a skills perspective but from a mental health perspective," she said.
"It’s really paying dividends and allowing me to go out on the field and perform, and on the days I don’t (perform), knowing it’s not the end of the world because there’s more to life than cricket.
"Some athletes can be perfectionists and if you don’t get something right it eats at you.
"But having the perspective that’s there’s more to life than just your sport … I’ve got that, I’ve been studying, I’ve got a couple of degrees, I’m planning a wedding, I recently got a little French bulldog pup."
That balance has been translating into performances on the field, with Jonassen making the most of her elevation to No.3 in the Heat batting line-up.
Jonassen has a Test 99 to her name and opened the batting for Australia in ODIs and T20Is on 10 occasions in 2015, but since shifted down the order, with her left-arm spin taking over as her dominant skill.
After working hard with new Heat coach Ashley Noffke ahead of the season, Jonassen credits a mental shift for her current form with the willow.
"It’s been a matter of a lack of consistency with the bat (in the past), I’ve always been capable of holding the bat but just (not) getting those big scores, or in T20 game getting the scores consistently and at a decent pace," she said.
"I think I’ve been able to unlock something mentally that’s been lacking.
"I had to figure out how Jess Jonassen wanted to play, instead of just trying to emulate the other batters going around.
"It is difficult you’ve got people like Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney who can hit over cover and you want to do the same, but for me it was a bit of soul searching and a few conversations with (Heat coach) Ashley Noffke that have given me some clarity around my batting.
"One of the major things that Noffers and I have worked on is about being free and being a bit more relaxed at the crease … knowing the more relaxed I am, the better I’m going to play."
These days, Jonassen usually bats around No.8 in the national side, thanks to the riches of batting talent ahead of her, but long-term it’s something she admits she wants to change.
"That is the goal for me, not just in the T20 format but the 50-over format as well," Jonassen said.
"We’ve got an exceptional batting line up and it’s going to be very challenging to get up the order but I’m doing everything I can.
"I’m getting runs under my belt, (Australia coach Matthew Mott) always talks about match-winning not outs and scoring at a decent clip in T20s and if I keep doing that, anything can happen.
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